I Am Legend is the story of Robert Neville (Will Smith), the last man in New York, after a genetic virus has wiped out the entire population. Neville and his dog, Sam forage for supplies by day and lock down the house at night because though he is the last human, he is not alone in the city.
I guess I should start off by saying that I'm not a fan of Will Smith. It's weird to say that because that statement is not based on anything tangible. I never "got" Fresh Prince and certainly avoided his music career, but I avoid that whole music genre as a rule. I don't have anything against him, I just don't see his movies. They are either ones that I have no interest in like (Hitch, Pursuit of Happiness) or ones I won't see for a larger reason (Bad Boys 1&2). However, there are titles that I would see (Ali, I Robot), but curiously, just haven't. I think the last (and may be only) movie I saw him in was Independence Day and you can't make a judgment based on that piece of fluff. Being a big fan of the book on which I Am Legend is based though, there was no getting around this. I have to give Smith props because he was really good in this. I mean, REALLY good. He carries this movie on his back effortlessly and even got me a little choked up at one point. That's no easy feat, let me tell you.
The first act of this movie has some really cool stuff. The opening is well executed and I'm still not sure how they did the sequence where Will Smith is speeding through the empty streets of New York in a Ford GTO. The camerawork is first rate. Director Francis Lawrence cleverly uses other means than just dialogue to convey information. A watch alarm, a magazine cover on a fridge door, stuff like that. This little easter egg, tearing up the Interweb this week, gave me a chuckle too.
I Am Legend is also an extremely quiet film. You really get the sense that Smith is the last person left in a once bustling city. I was very interested to see how they adapted the second half of the book and was not surprised at all that they went in a different direction. I didn't really have a problem with the route they went, except that it seemed to end too quickly.
Which brings me to the only major problem I had with I Am Legend. There was an inordinate use of CGI, especially with the films antagonists. I think some of it could have been done practically and it would have enchanced the scares tenfold. They reminded me of the Mummy, except those effects look pretty shoddy now by today's standards. A lot of potential scares (beyond the usual jumper variety) were lost because of this.
Overall, I Am Legend is a good film, but not a great one. It's elevated by Will Smith's performance, but brought down by the overuse of visual effects.